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The allocation of death in the Salem witch trials: a public choice perspective

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World folklore and history are replete with examples that involve economics principles. The present note builds upon other published work by providing an empirical public choice analysis of the Salem witch trials of 1692. Our analysis suggests that the pattern of accusations during this episode was non-random, and works to support the public choice argument that Reverend Parris and the other ministers used the witchcraft hysteria as a "crusade" against residents of east Salem village because they supported - against the wishes of Parris and the west Salem villagers - economic and political alignment with the neighboring Salem town.
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Keywords: Beliefs; Seventeenth Century; Social Economics; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 13, 2003

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